Why Brand Consistency Matters

January 31st, 2019

Lexie Shaunak

Account Manager

Image of hanging bridge over valley

It is 2019, and at this point it is well known that your brand needs to do more than just exist - it needs to connect with people, showcase clear value, and develop loyalty amongst your customers. It is not enough to get caught up in ROI, KPIs, or goal completions. Ultimately, whether you are B2B, B2C, or whatever else you could be, what you are doing as a brand is trading in just one, infinitely valuable (but extremely limited) commodity - trust.

In this over-information age, consumers and CEOs alike are bombarded with more and more interruptions, when all they REALLY want is to go about their daily lives, know what to expect, and to easily find reliable solutions to their problems. We’re perpetually confounded by “analysis paralysis” with more noise being added every day. As Simon Sinek explains in the first few chapters of Start With Why,

 

“(In) every decision we’re asked to make...there are just too many choices. All the advertising, promotions, and pressure employed to tempt us one way or the other…(this) ultimately yields one consistent result: stress.”  (pg 33)

 

What you are doing as a brand is trading in trust.

 

That is where brand consistency comes in. Brand consistency shows your clients, customers, and even employees that you “walk the walk, not just talk the talk.” So much more than just a logo or a set of Pantone colors, your brand is the identity of who you are and what your values are. So, brand consistency touches every aspect of what you do, articulating those things clearly (over and over again) in every aspect of your business.

At Paradigm, we believe that strategy comes first and that knowing who you are and why you are in the business you are in has to be the starting point to do anything of value. Pretty pictures will only get you so far!  Additionally, you have to know why anyone out there in the over-information saturated world should care about what you have to say. Once you establish those things, brand consistency helps your audience to hear you and understand you - more quickly and clearly with every interaction.

 

Brand consistency shows that you “walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

 

Brand consistency tells your clients or customers “Hey, I got this. I know what I am doing. I have clear processes in place. I am not rushing or putting things together haphazardly. The things I have told you that I value, I really value. You can expect the same level of service, the same kind of experience, and the same processes no matter who you talk to in my company. You don’t have to worry about this thing anymore - I’ve got it covered.”

This consistency also matters for internal communication. Your people should be able to articulate what your company stands for, and point to tangible ways that those values are true about how it operates in the day to day. If they cannot, you may need some “brand therapy” to re-center. If your own team cannot articulate who you are and what makes you different, how is that message going to get out to your clients or the general public clearly?

For myself, I became a believer in the power of brand consistency long before I was working in the Branding/Marketing/Advertising world. In a previous career, I was traveling every other week back and forth across the state of Tennessee, often spending the night in a different hotel each night and checking out early the next morning. In that time, I became a brand loyalist to Hampton Inn for one simple reason - extremely good brand consistency. I knew that my room would be clean, nicely furnished, and comfortable no matter where I was. I knew I could grab a cookie at 3pm, a hot tea at the end of my hectic day, and grab a to-go breakfast from the front desk on my way out the door. The consistent branding, furnishings, policies, and even general layout helped remove the ache of bouncing around on a daily basis by being a place that I could count on to be the same and comfortable, no matter where I was. Very quickly, I was reluctant to book anything else if I could help it. Hampton Inn had earned my trust, and by extension, my repeat business. And because of their strong brand consistency, even if you have only been there once, you know what Hampton Inn stands for - a comfortable, relaxing stay that supports whatever it is you are in town to do.

 

A  lack of brand consistency confuses and frustrates customers

 

Having a brand that clearly communicates and is hyper-consistent takes attention and intention. But is it REALLY that big of a deal if you slip up here and there? I would say yes. If the commodity that is earned through knowing what to expect is TRUST, a lack of brand consistency confuses and frustrates customers, decreasing their ability to trust you, and consequently, their likelihood to choose you.

For example, if a company touts that at their core, they love connecting people, but in all their materials you cannot find their phone number, it is a brand consistency issue. If a company promotes that they are sustainable, but their product comes in a lot of non-recyclable packaging, it is a brand consistency issue. If a company wants to and needs to be accessible to users of all ages, but their materials are hard to read or their website is full of animations and users have to scroll for a long time to get to the key information, it is a brand consistency issue. Sinek elaborates on this, stating: “...an organization must be clear about its purpose, cause or belief, and make sure everything they say and do is consistent with and authentic to that belief.” (Pg 75)

 

 “...an organization must...make sure everything they say and do is consistent" - Simon Sinek

 

The example I often use when explaining why all this matters is a familiar experience to many. Picture this - you walk into a nice restaurant for a date. The decor is nice, the menu is well designed, the waiter is friendly. You order a drink, it comes out quickly and is tasty, and you are having a lovely date night experience and enjoying the ambiance. You excuse yourself to go to the restroom and when you walk through the door - you feel like you are in a totally different place. The walls are light purple. There are fake flowers and an empty bottle of air freshener sitting on the counter. One of the toilets is clogged. There is water all over the floor. The soap dispenser is out of soap, and the paper towels are set on top of the paper towel dispenser, rather than inside of it. There is no toilet paper in some of the stalls. Instantly, your nice, happy date night ambiance has evaporated. You are annoyed, and this experience starts to create paranoia instead of trust.  If this is how they keep the bathroom, you begin to wonder, what does the kitchen look like? Your entire experience with that place has been changed, simply because the care they put into their decor and service in the front of the house, and the experience you had with a less prominent area are so drastically different. THAT is a lapse in brand consistency - it is “out of character” for what that restaurant has “told” you about itself.

Now, on a lesser (or more digital scale) this same experience can happen. A client met one of your people, or got a recommendation from a friend to look your company up. They see you as being a company that is on the cutting edge, doing great work, and trustworthy. But then, your website has broken links. Or images that are grainy. Or your e-commerce is difficult to use. Or maybe, you don’t have a website at all. Maybe your brand is supposed to be friendly and welcoming, but your responses to Facebook comments are snarky, or worse, non-existent. Maybe, the logo on the wall and the logo on the website don’t match. They begin to wonder, “Is this the same place? Why is this so confusing? Do they not realize this information is out of date? Am I going to get what I expect?” Very quickly, you have lost the opportunity to build trust with them, you have made their lives more difficult, and you have created additional friction that makes it harder for that client or customer to say “yes” to you.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Sinek summarizes a successful use of “why” - and clear brand consistency that supports it - as being “when people can point to a company and clearly articulate what the company believes and use words unrelated to price, quality, service, and features, that is proof...when people describe the value they perceive with visceral, excited words like “love”...” (Pg 193)  Do you have a brand clear and consistent enough for people to say that about you?

At the end of the day, you and your people cannot be everywhere at once. Your brand is the shared identity of who you are, what you value, and why anyone should care that you exist. Communicating that brand story in a way that is clear, concise, and consistent is the way you gain the ultimate value - trust - in the eyes of those who work for you and those who will work with you.

 

Need help articulating who you are, and why people should care? Contact us, and we’ll help you get your brand back on track   

 

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